Press Statement

Congress Votes Against American Workers By Squashing State Retirement Program Innovations

May 3, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the U.S. Senate voted to pass H.J. Res 66, a resolution that blocks the Department of Labor (DOL) rule that allows states to help workers save for their retirement. To address inequities in access to employer-sponsored retirement options, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington had all passed legislation and begun efforts to set up state-based Individual Retirement Account (IRA) plans to expand access to retirement savings.

“The resolution passed today, as well as those passed last month in the House, stifle state and local innovations to solve the retirement crisis for the millions of Americans, including many Latinos, who lack sufficient retirement savings. It makes no sense for Congress to limit the ability of states to help millions of hardworking Americans across the United States take control of their financial futures,” said Eric Rodriguez, NCLR Vice President of the Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation.

Lack of retirement savings is a critical issue that affects many Americans, and the issue is more severe in communities of color; in fact, 62 percent of Black and 69 percent of Hispanic households lack any retirement savings. One significant barrier is that many workers struggle to save for retirement due to limited or no access to an employer-sponsored plan. Nationwide, more than 40 million workers do not have an employer-sponsored retirement option. For minority communities, the disparities are even more startling—only 38 percent of Latino employees ages 25–64 work for an employer that sponsors a retirement plan, compared to 62 percent of White employees.

“Today’s vote against expanding retirement access harms our nation’s workers. This is particularly troubling since so many workers lack access to employer-based plans and state-run plans are an opportunity to fill that gap,” Rodriguez continued. “We were surprised to see members of Congress who profess to support state’s rights vote for a measure that would limit those rights. It was especially galling to hear some lawmakers citing the need for strong consumer protections under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 as the rationale for their voting against workers, while those same lawmakers seek to undermine consumer protections in other areas. If Congress wants to truly help workers and families economically, they would focus less on rolling back everything agencies did under the Obama administration and pay more attention to the policies they're undermining,” stated Rodriguez.

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to build a stronger America by creating opportunities for Latinos. For more information on NCLR, please visit or follow along on Facebook and Twitter